Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chick Lit - Why Pre-Ordering Books Matters

How Jennifer Weiner, Jen Lancaster and Stacey Ballis got me buying books again

Seven years ago, I stopped buying books. I moved to a city with a great library hold system. I could request all the hot new books and have them in my hands in a matter of months – and they were free.  I blogged about the ones I liked. I tried out cookbooks and even bought a couple of those that I couldn’t live without. Then, I started following Jen Lancaster and  Jennifer Weiner on twitter. Their recommendations turned me on to great authors: Alison Scotch Winn, Caroline Leavitt, Sarah Dessen, Stacey Ballis, Libby Bray , Liz Moore and the list goes on. I read their books and tweeted my delight.  And they tweeted back! It was thrilling to get an immediate answer from authors whose works had transported me to a different place or even back to times in my life with a whole new perspective. Following these women on twitter also opened a door into the publishing world.

In the past year or so, Jennifer Weiner has written about the bias against women in literary publications. She’s noted the gender disparity in the selection of books reviewed by the New York Times and the degradation of literature branded “chick lit”.   Initially, I found this annoying. Who cares? I am a person. I am reading your books. The people who are putting you on the best seller list don’t seem to care about this disparity. I don’t choose books based on reviews in the New York Times because I find the NY Times pretentious and irrelevant to my life. I want to punch people in the nose who say, “I saw in the Times yesterday….” But then I figured, these reviews must somehow be very very important. I was just missing it.

Then author Stacey Ballis spelled it out for me in her blog. Reviews matter because pre-orders matter. Pre-orders determine the size of a print run and the resources a publisher will put into promoting a book. This is a big deal in general and a very big deal for new authors or authors who haven’t previously appeared on the bestseller list. Now I got it. The bias in these literary publications could be quashing the dreams of these incredibly talented women authors simply because a lot of women read their books. That pissed me off. Thankfully, Jennifer Weiner, Jennifer Lancaster and Stacey Ballis have given me an opportunity to do something about it by recommending great new authors early enough that my pre-order can help make a difference. So I have started buying books again and if you value great books written by great woman authors may be you should too.

Jennifer Weiner tweets @jenniferweiner & blogs at http://jenniferweiner.blogspot.com/

Jennifer Lancaster tweets @altgeldshrugged & blogs at http://www.jennsylvania.com/

Stacey Ballis tweets @staceyballis &  blogs at http://thepolymathchronicles.blogspot.com/  
You should PRE-ORDER her new book Off the Menu. Go ahead. I'll wait.


  1. maybe petty but if you're a oft tweeting author (like @aswinn) and you reply I'm psyched to pay $ for your book. But the authors who never ever reply? Library. One of the authors you write about, who is very vocal and beleaguered on twitter, hasn't once deigned to reply to any of my tweets - mainly about looking forward to reading her books or just having finished and loved one. I guess she gets so many compliments she can't possibly tweet a "thank you"? Well good for her, she won't miss my money. I used to buy her books religiously but her online attitude is a HUGE turn off.

  2. I haven't received a response to every tweet. In fact, I have only received tweets from Jen Lancaster and Jennifer Weiner when I have asked them specific questions about something they tweeted about. They were very kind to reply to those. I think it would be difficult to reply to all the tweets.

  3. I've done that with the one author to see if it would make a difference. It didn't, at this point I'm fairly certain she's just a woe-is-me-complainer despite making a living doing what she wants, having a nice life and being a popular writer, kinda hard to feel badly for her. Especially when so many other writers are gracious.

  4. Well, damn. Just learned something new! And pre-ordered three new books from Amazon for next month, all written by women. Thanks for this. I'll share it.

  5. Thanks for the new to me knowledge. I will buy earlier now that I understand.

  6. Angie, you are so right about this. Preorders and reviews are huge to authors and can make a big difference in whether or not they'll get another contract. Thanks for getting that out there!